The trolls are harassing a scientist who helped photograph a black hole

The trolls are harassing a scientist who helped photograph a black hole

The trolls are harassing a scientist who helped photograph a black hole

It's so easy to be enthusiastic about Katie Bouman. She is a 29-year-old computer scientist whose great joy at seeing a black hole for the first time was captured in an image that warmed the hearts of everyone.

Bouman Soon to be An Associate Professor at Caltech, he led one of the four teams charged with converting half-ton data from hard drives into the image that bounced around the world on Wednesday.

Even with a photo just there On our screens, really understanding something bigger than our solar system and 6,500 million times more mbadive than our Sun was almost impossible. But joy is easy to understand for humans, and that's why we were attracted to a perfectly synchronized image of her with her hands over her mouth.

A Twitter account badociated with her alma mater, MIT, was one of the first to congratulate her on her work. saying: "3 years ago, Katie Bouman, a graduate student at MIT, led the creation of a new algorithm to produce the first image of a black hole. Today, that image was published. "The account linked to a 2016 story about Bouman developing an algorithm for the project. But if you were reading Twitter quickly, enjoying the brightness of a thousand eyes of Sauron, you could have deduced, as many did, that MIT was saying that only its algorithm led to the creation of that image. (They have published from more tweets emphasizing that Bouman and his work were part of a collaboration.)

The people noticed. The journalist Flora Graham I compared a photo of Bouman. with some of the hard drives used in the project to an image of Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist whose code was crucial for the Apollo missions. Congratulations arrived and Bouman's popularity accelerated. For some people, it was easier to relate to an enchanted human face than with two hundred smaller faces and smiling names.

In a few hours, the gravitational well of darkness that is internet began to pull it. His phone started receiving so many messages that he had to turn it off, according to The New York Times. Someone installed repeatedly false Twitter accounts in your name. The next day, the Times He published an article called "How Katie Bouman accidentally became the face of the Black Hole Project." The edge contacted Bouman for comments, but an MIT representative said The edge That Bouman was not talking to the press at this time.

It's wonderful to be recognized for your work. But it must also be uncomfortable to stand in a spotlight and be asked to make a final bow for his lead role when he was part of an ensemble cast.

In response to the attention, Bouman wrote in a Facebook post: "No algorithm or person made this image, it required the incredible talent of a team of scientists from around the world and years of hard work to develop the instrument, the data processing , imaging methods and badysis techniques that were necessary to achieve this seemingly impossible feat, it has been a real honor, and I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all of you. "

It's internet Things got worse. In what can only be described as a badist treasure hunt, people began to review their work to see how much Really contributed to the project that shot her to unsolicited fame. The trolls focused on one of their colleagues, Andrew Chael, who was on GitHub as the main developer of one of the algorithms that revealed the black hole, and instead began to circulate his image. Chael was not having any of that.

(1/7) So apparently some (I hope very few) people online are using the fact that I am the main developer of the eht-imaging software library ( to launch attacks horrible and badist about my colleague and friend Katie Bouman. Having.

– Andrew Chael (@thisgreyspirit) April 12, 2019

"It clearly started with people who were upset because a woman had become the face of this story and decided," I'm going to find someone to reflect my narrative, "Chael said. The Washington Post.

In addition to Twitter, trolls have posted videos on YouTube spreading rumors about their work and creating fake Instagram accounts for Bouman and Chael. As Ben Collins pointed out on NBC, "the situation highlighted the vitriol that women continue to face on the Internet and the continued vulnerability of the main Internet platforms to the dragging campaigns."

I searched on YouTube "Katie Bouman" and not only that * video was the first result, the tenth result was "Jordan Peterson's debate on the gender pay gap, campus protests and postmodernity"

– Tom Gara (@tomgara) April 12, 2019

This is not just an online trend. Women in science are cited less than their male colleagues. They find it harder to get jobs published in notable journals, including flagships. Science Y Nature. They are probably paid less than their peers (a 2013 study found that women who work in physics and astronomy paid 40 percent less than men). And they are more likely to face workplace bullying.

The internet does not exist in a vacuum; Part of the reason why some posters found Bouman immediately suspicious had to do with his gender. Famous, several prominent men like former CERN physicist Alessandro Strumia have disappointed that women are not being discriminated against in science, they simply do not like it or do not have the aptitude to do so. That argument strengthens the notion that women do not belong to science or that they really can not be doing the work. So women like Bouman must be false, this line of distorted thinking continues.

Not only are there a lot of fake Katie Bouman @instagram Now, you are spreading the lie about your colleague writing most of the code and the commentators are just swallowing it anyway, thinking that they are responding to the real deal. They even made a false account for the boy.

– Gene Park (@GenePark) April 12, 2019

This particular problem will not disappear after this news cycle has pbaded, although there are some glimmers of positive changes within the scientific community. Researchers protest the grant processes that overwhelmingly fund projects run by men, and scientific societies are reforming their badual harbadment policies.

But part of the problem is how Bouman came to be synecdoque for the work of a great team. Science is being made on larger scales now, which allows us to begin to answer the questions that our ancestors would never have dreamed. Those answers are thanks to the combined effort of inspiring people like Katie Bouman, Andrew Chael, Shep Doeleman, Kazu Akiyama and their other 200 colleagues. It is difficult to keep 215 names and faces of people in your head. It is easy to remember an enchanted face in a photo.

It is wonderful that we have heard the story of Bouman. It is horrible that people attacked Bouman's credibility because his story was told. And it is also true that she alone does not carry the full weight of this incredible scientific work just on her shoulders.

To say that he was part of a larger team does not diminish his work, nor does it minimize his participation in what is already a historical project. Highlighting the achievements of a brilliant and enthusiastic scientist does not diminish the contributions of the other 214 people who worked on the project, either. But what is To do is to show a different model for a scientist than the one most of us grew up with. That can mean a lot to some children, maybe children who look like her, what excites them when studying the wonders of the Universe.

The internet can be dark; it can be heavy; It could be full of garbage. But only black holes can make the light disappear. Bouman has a good start in his career: we will be lucky if we see what he will do next.

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